Luck wasn’t on Windsor’s side when the Division 1 men’s rugby team took on the visiting Dartmouth PigDogs.
The game, played July 13 under a blazing sun, saw a hard-fought first half, with the PigDogs eventually winning 63-15.
Wayne French, the PigDogs’ coach, said the score wasn’t indicative of the Valley Rugby Union’s play.
“I'd like to give them some praise as well. They were definitely short-handed,” said French. “I know, off the top of my head, they were missing five starters, or more. And they just had a lot of young guys out there that busted their butts.”
French said he appreciated the effort.
“They probably did a lot better than most teams would have under those circumstances,” he said. “The score didn't reflect how hard they played.”
As for his team, French said he saw areas where they could improve.
“It was a learning experience for both sides. I don't think that my side played particularly well, even though we won by a good margin,” he said.
Star players for the PigDogs were D.J. Burns and Greygory Wagner. French said Burns, the team’s eight-man, is “just excellent young talent” and scored a couple times during the July 13 game. Wagner, who hails from Montreal but lives in the city, plays in the second row and “he's just outstanding.”
Looking ahead, the PigDogs have their sights set on improving upon last year’s effort.
“The overall goal is to do better than last year. Last year, we made it to the semis and lost to PEI, who eventually won the championship,” said French, noting their next game is in PEI on Aug. 3. The team hopes to win the league tournament or “at least improve on a semi-final loss.”
MACHINE, BULLDOGS JOIN FORCES
The Hants County RFC Machine have teamed up with the Valley Bulldogs to form the Valley Rugby Union this year.
Axel Lawrence, a player-coach with the Division 1 VRU, said they’re testing out a pilot project to see if merging the two teams is a positive venture. The clubs practice together, play together and share resources. He said so far, it’s working out well.
“We've talked about it for a while and then last year, the way the season went for both of us, we decided to give it a try and it's going extremely well,” said Lawrence.
About 19 people were away or unable to play for the July 13 D1 and D2 games, Lawrence said, which meant several players had to do double duty, with little to no rest. However, with the clubs collaborating this year, Lawrence said at least they were able to complete the games with so many players missing.
“In the past, if we had 19 people unavailable, there's no way we'd be able to play those two games. But this year, we were able to get the games played at least and not have to reschedule or forfeit them,” he said.
And they’re already seeing some standout players take a lead role on the teams.
“For the Division 1 men, Mark O'Reilly is very good. He's our best line out jumper and... his ball handling skills and rugby awareness is pretty high,” said Lawrence, noting O’Reilly came off another solid season with the Nova Scotia Keltics.
Gabe Morgan brings “a lot of heat and energy” and helps makes plays happen, Lawrence said.
For Division 2, Tk Kim is serving as the team’s captain and “has had a pretty solid start to the season.”
Brothers Gem and Evan Logan, who played for King’s-Edgehill, are also proving to be quite invaluable.
The Division 2 team also played July 13, losing 43-24 to the Truro Saints.
“Our personal goal this year would be to get ourselves into a top four position, and then into a semi-final in Division 1. That's something we're working towards right now,” said Lawrence.
Heading into play July 20, the D1 VRU team record was 0-2, having lost the first game of the year to Halifax RFC, 24-15.
“The competition's pretty tight, like there's no easy games. So even though we've had a bit of a slow start, we play every team twice. So we're looking to kind of build off that.”
He said the Division 2 goal would be similar.
The D2 team’s record is 1-2, as they registered a win against Enfield earlier in the season.
Both the D1 and D2 men’s teams are scheduled to play July 20 against PEI at King’s-Edgehill. They have an away game July 27 to take on Pictou before hosting the Halifax Tars in Port Williams on Aug. 10.